What if diagnosing salmonella or colorectal cancer was as easy as looking in the toilet? Scientists and designers are collaborating to create a new type of bacteria that beautifies your fecal matter while diagnosing your illness.
We mentioned E. chromi, the color-coded designer bacteria made from E. coli, back in June. When brought to genetically engineered life, the bacteria will have a number of uses, including testing groundwater and as a chemical-free food coloring. But none of them hit my juvenile funny bone while making me pray this becomes a reality quite like the poop-coloring possibilities.
The idea is that, someday soon, you'll be able to drink a probiotic shake filled with E. chromi. The modified E. coli contain genes capable of producing color. When the bacteria react with certain enzymes, proteins, and chemicals in your gastrointestinal tract, they will produce certain colors, making diagnosis as simple as reading a color chart.
Just make sure you don't eat any crayons when testing your guts, or you'll skew the results.